Adoree Jackson is electric on the field as he is one of those players that makes fans hold their breath every time he gets the ball. He plays defense, offense and returns kicks. His diversity as a defender, pass catcher and returner make him a player who can make an immediate impact in 2017.
Jackson’s strengths as a cornerback are clearly defined in his NFL.com souting report. The knock-on Jackson was his lack of coverage skills heading into the 2016 NCAA season. His sophomore year he looked like a fast player with ball skills who struggled in coverage on defense. However, this seems to have changed, according to his draft profile:
"Feel in coverage has improved substantially from his freshman season. Shows greater pattern recognition and is able to maintain coverage around the field. Has necessary hip flip and foot quickness to recover from mistakes in press and lapses in coverage in space. Plays in a variety of coverage techniques. Able to mirror and match from press."
It is impressive to see Jackson convert a weakness into a strength over the past season. As a track athlete, Jackson has been unable to participate in USC spring practices or games. After the draft, for the first time in Jackson’s life, he will dedicate his talents full-time to football. Hence, his ceiling is very high.
He also excels as a kick returner, a piece of his game highlighted in his profile:
"High-end return talent who can swing games in an instant. His eight career return touchdowns make him an immediate return man for any team that takes him."
As a kick returner, Jackson can turn an average special teams unit into one of the league’s most feared overnight.
However, Jackson’s frame and coverage techniques can still improve. At 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, Jackson is on the small side for a cornerback, as pointed out in his profile:
"Smallish for an outside cornerback. Might be limited to just work in the slot.. . . Lack of size and run-support strength could make him an early target for teams who like to run out of 11 personnel (three wide receivers)."
Although he may lack size, Jackson makes up for it with the ability to tackle and a fearless mentality to take on ball carriers.
Speed kills. But sometimes it can kill the person wielding the speed. Jackson needs to do a better job of playing under control when facing receivers with excellent route running abilities. Receivers can often use excellent routes to use Jackson’s speed against him, per his profile:
"Can be a little over-aggressive with pace of bail coverage when fearing speed. Has a very slight hitch in transition forward from his pedal. Allowed routes to leverage him too far out of the middle of the field when he had no safety help."
The bottom line is that Jackson is more than simply a small corner with coverage concerns. His value lies as a kick returner and in his ability to be an offensive weapon on occasion. Combine his defense with these added elements, and Jackson can become a very dangerous player very early in his NFL career.